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Complexity Under Control Webinar Recap

A recap of a program management webinar, discussing how to plan, monitor and analyze complex programs.
Complexity Under Control
 
 
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    Last week, @CDMSmith brought together three of our best program management experts to discuss how to plan, monitor and analyze complex programs. In this webinar, they discussed the in-and-outs of a program plan--including how to define and measure expectations, and plan for impending changes. Shall we dive in?
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    Our panelists for this webinar--Tom Lutzenberger, Gerry Benson and Brian McCarthy--have spent much of their working lives overseeing several programs, involving 100+ projects. Allow us to introduce you:
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    After a warm introduction, Tom got right to business with the first topic...
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    What is a Program Plan?
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    Programs can last for decades, with many levels of complexity. Developing a comprehensive program plan helps stakeholders to see the big picture. As Gerry went on to say, a program plan is the "rulebook by which a program team is able to work," clarifying the roles of all team members:
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    Complexity Under Control: Defining Relationships
     
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    Once team member roles are clearly defined, your program plan can begin to take shape. Typically, program plans are broken up into three volumes: program approach and policies, procedures, and reference documentation of existing systems. Here is what the first chunk of your program management plan might look like:
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    Take your time developing a program plan. Plan development is an extensive process that can take up to a year to fully solidify, especially when you decide what type of program model will work best for your organization. As shown below, each model has its benefits and can limit or increase the number of people that will need be involved, affecting the necessary complexity of the program management plan.
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    Next, you will need to develop a work breakdown structure that will help your program "manage, track and report progress." Gerry made sense of this for us:
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    Complexity Under Control: Work Breakdown Structure
     
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    Having a program plan and work breakdown structure in place will lead to easy document and schedule access, increased communication and accurate staffing. Next, our panelists talked about defining expectations and measuring success.
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    Defining Expectations and Measuring Success
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    Our panelist, Brian McCarthy, knows better than anyone that "project delivery is a social activity." Stakeholders should expect to interact with each other often. This includes seeking to understand the perspectives of one another at every planning and decision making stage:
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    Complexity Under Control: Understanding Perspectives
     
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    Considering internal and external perspectives, what types of expectations will you need to set? Of course, every program is unique, but your organization should expect to hold meetings along these lines: stakeholder mapping, defining benefits, quality planning, risk management, and any additional meetings to maintain good communication. The program management plan will also involve as-is and GAP assessments to understand the current state of the organization:
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    The most critical part of implementing a program as efficiently as possible involves identifying key metrics by which to measure success-- Gerry laid out a few to consider:
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    Complexity Under Control: Key Peformance Metrics
     
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    Again, every program is different. For instance, if you are managing a sewer rehabilitation program, you will likely need to measure how many miles of pipe have been cleaned or inspected, or the amount of point repairs conducted. In addition, your team should track quality metrics; such as schedule, budget, and claims management:
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    Tracking key metrics is the best way to ensure that your team is efficiently and effectively completing work on your program. Which leads us to the next topic...
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    Transparency and Flexibility
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    Trust is key to the successful implementation of a program plan. Stakeholders--businesses, municipalities, utilities, regulatory agencies, ratepayers and disadvantaged groups--will be looking for transparency at every stage of the planning process. In order to manage these expectations, as Gerry addressed, effective communication channels will need to be maintained:
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    Complexity Under Control: Maintaining Communication
     
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    Not only will transparency ensure a good relationship with your stakeholders, it will enable you to have a good audit trail--especially if questions arise over how funds were spent.
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    Keep in mind that expectations tend to change overtime. Over the course of a 10-15 year program; technological, economic and regulatory factors will not stay consistent. Brian charged attendees to ensure that their program plans remain living documents, able to adapt to these certain changes:
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    Complexity Under Control: Staying Flexible
     
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    As priorities change, reporting, risk management and stakeholder plans should be revisited and tweaked as necessary. Keeping your plan as simple as possible will allow your program plan to bend--not break.
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    Well...that does it for this webinar! We hope that you learned a thing or two, and that you feel empowered to start developing your program plan. Of course, @CDMSmith is here to help with any of your program management needs--If you have any question at all, do not hesitate to reach out to any of our panelists:
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    Interested in hearing what our panelists had to say after the webinar ended? Check out the extended Q-and-A session that followed.
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    Finally--let us leave you with what program management means to us...
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    Seeing the Future through Program Management
     
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    Follow us on Twitter @CDMSmith.

Controls Webinar
Gerry Benson Gerry Benson
A program plan is a rulebook by which a program team is able to work.
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